Please don't post your comments more than once. I moderate all comments and a delay between posting and appearing is part of the drill here. I get to all comments in due time. Please don't continually repost the same comment. Only one will be posted. Thank you.
Friday, December 22, 2006
"We want to let you know that your December 14, 2006 blog posting has inaccurate information. Benefit recipients who retired under the Full Formula method may be affected by the Strunk/Eugene recalculation and your direction to send a letter to certain PERS staff in and of itself may not preserve a member's right to appeal.
The amount of a Full Formula benefit payment may change with a change in account balance depending on whether the member chose to convert the normal Full Formula benefit (as you stated, Final Average Salary x Service Credit x Statutory Factor) to an optional form of benefit. ORS 238.300 directs that the member's retirement be comprised of an annuity funded by his/her account balance and a pension that "tops up" to the highest benefit form (Money Match, Full Formula, or Formula + Annuity, if eligible).
The normal Full Formula calculation initially yields a benefit payable on a Refund Annuity basis (the Refund Annuity Option). If the member instead elects Option 1, 2, 2A, 3, or 3A, the annuity component of the Full Formula benefit is then revised using the actuarial adjustment factors. The resulting difference from the Refund Annuity Option calculation is then applied to the member's payable benefit (higher if Option 1; lower if Options 2, 2A, 3, or 3A). So, changes in a member's account balance under the Strunk/Eugene recalculation would affect the amount of that annuity adjustment if the member had chosen to convert his/her Refund Annuity Full Formula to an optional form of benefit payment (as the majority of members do).
Also, you appear to assume that these benefit recipients can contest their benefit using the Notice of Contest procedure. In fact, depending on several factors (whether the member previously received a Notice of Entitlement, e.g.), their appeal rights may lay in a different direction. The appeal process is specified in each member's letter, particular to that member's status and issues that are subject to review. So, while the Notice of Contest may be appropriate for some members, it is not for others. Members who want to appeal their adjustment need to follow the appeal process specified in the information provided to them in their individual Strunk/Eugene recalculation letter. They can supplement that process with a letter to some or all of the people you mentioned, but those supplemental letters, in and of themselves, may not preserve their appeal rights.
Please let me know if you would like further information or clarification on these issues."
There you have it. My guess is that some Full Formula retirees "in the window" (not many actually), may see invoices they never expected to get.
P.S. I've just heard another rumor (not verified yet) that PERS is also dunning some members who retired in late 1999, BEFORE the *window* defined by the Legislature. It is unclear what statutory authority is involved here, as members who retired prior to January 1, 2000 wouldn't have been credited with 20% for 1999. One can only surmise that PERS may be taking its mandate further than that granted by the Legislature or by Judge Lipscomb in recalculating the benefit for *anyone* who was credited with more than 11.33% in 1999, regardless of when they retired. Perhaps they've decided that 11.33% is the base and retirements during 1999 must somehow be prorated to the final crediting. This would be a significant change in recent policy, as PERS has previously credited retirements during a calendar year with the greater of the 8% pro-rate or the actual earnings at the end of the month preceding the retirement month (e.g. October 31 for December 1 retirements). I understand that the ceiling is currently set at 8%, regardless of actual earnings, but it wasn't set in 1999, nor was 1999 revised to do anything other than credit 11.33% to Tier 1 regular accounts, not somehow change the way the monthly pro-rates work. So, while this is in rumor form, I regard the source as quite reliable and I will be looking into this further when I return from vacation. In the meantime, the fun never stops. Someday I hope to wake up from this nightmare and discover it was all just a bad dream. Unfortunately, sleeping is challenging these days as more of these cockroaches keep climbing out from under the rocks and interrupting sound sleep.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Several readers have inquired about the "Bell" case. This is a new lawsuit filed by the PERS Coalition on behalf of a single member as a test case. I know only what AFSCME has published in its weekly e-Lert. It appears to me to be a case testing the proposition that PERS, by failing to inform members considering retirement, of possible changes to retirement benefits resulting from active litigation, misled people into retiring on knowingly faulty information. I don't know the details, but it seems to me that those members who sought to and retired PRIOR TO the Lipscomb decision on October 8, 2002 would be candidates for this, but there is some view that anyone who retired prior to the enactment of HB 2003 (May 8, 2003) would also be candidates. PERS was anything but candid about any of this litigation and legislation prior to mid-2003 and so many members relied on PERS' representations and figures to MAKE retirement decisions. So it appears that the PERS Coalition is going to test this theory out in a separate case, captioned "Bell v PERS". I'm certainly interested in this case, as I retired prior to Lipscomb's decision and I can tell you that PERS never once advertised or informed me of the possible impact of this case on my decision to retire. Indeed, I have frequently remarked that I *might* have chosen to work a year or two longer had I known that the 1999 earnings crediting decision was in jeopardy for an entire class of PERS members.
It is time to start readying the family for our trip. Again, best wishes for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and a joyous New Year. I had hoped that my final post for 2006 might include the outcome of the Arken and Robinson cases, but it appears that Judge Kantor will wait until 2007 to release his decisions in those cases. I will interrupt my regular vacation to post should Judge Kantor issue decisions before the end of the year.
Monday, December 18, 2006
"I decided to donate the sum of $5,000,000( five million dollars) to you for the good work of the lord, and also to help motherless privilege
also for the assistance of the widows according to (JAMES 1:27). e motherless
My name is MRS Filicia Bryant .I am a dying woman who have decided to
donate what I have to you in order to use it for the benificial of our nation
and the rest of our citizenry.
i am a native of Russian Federation,but my husband is
from London .I was diagnosed for cancer about 2 years ago, immediately after the
death of my husband, Who had left me everything he worked
I have been touched By God to donate from what I have inherited from my late
Husband to you for the good work of God,. Please pray that the good Lord forgive me my sins. I have asked God To forgive me and i believe he has because He is a merciful God.I will be going in for an operation tomorrow morning.
At the moment I cannot take any telephone calls right now due to the Fact that my relatives are around me and my health status. I have adjusted my WILL and my Executor is aware I have changed my will; you and he will arrange for the change of ownership of the funds as it is presently deposited in barclays bank, and lodged. the box in a coded Security company whose name is Ron basically on security and confidential purposes and would only be released to (you).
I wish you all the best and may the good Lord bless you abundantly, and Please use the funds well and always extend the good work to others. Contact my Executor sirbrown with this specified email; sirbrown@myway with your full names contact telephone/fax number and your full address and tell him that I have WILLED ($5,000,000.00) to you and I have also notified him that I am WILLING that amount to you for a specific and good work. I know I don't know you but I have been directed to do this. Thanks and God bless.
NB: I will appreciate your utmost confidentiality in this matter until the task is accomplished as I don't want anything that will Jeopardize my last wish. Pls keep the faith My Prayer for you.Father, I ask You to bless my friends, relatives and
those I care deeply for, You Who are reading this right now. Show him/her a new
revelation of Your love and power. Holy Spirit, I ask You to minister to their spirit at this very moment. Where there is pain, give them Your peace and mercy. Where there is self-doubt, release a renewed confidence through Your grace. Where there is need,I ask you to fulfill their needs. Bless their homes, families, finances, their goings and their comings. In Jesus' precious name.
YOUR EMAIL RESPONSE SHOULD BE DIRECTED TO Executor sirbrown PROCESSING OFFICER Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Have a most joyous holiday.
P.S. If you want suggestions for charitable organizations, please don't hesitate to ask. Here are a few I've given to various readers who've asked: Oregon Food Bank, Virginia Garcia Medical Clinics, Loaves and Fishes, Child Aid, Susan Komen Breast Cancer Research, Your Local Church Foodbanks. This is just a partial list, but includes my wife's and my favorite recipients of our charity dollars. Please do not feel obligated to donate to any of these. We only ask that you consider those less fortunate than you and contribute whatever you can.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
If you receive an invoice from PERS and you can CONFIRM you retired under Full Formula, you have only 60 days to contest this notice. DO NOT call PERS. Write them a letter - formally a "Notice of Contest" - challenging the invoice. If at all possible, hand deliver the letter to the front desk of PERS and make sure you see it stamped as "received" and make sure you get a photocopy of your letter with the same stamp on it. As a precaution, send carbon copies of your invoice and contest letter to 1) Paul Cleary, Executive Director of PERS, Steve Delaney, Deputy Director of PERS, and Steve Rodeman, Interim Head of Benefits Processing (responsible for sending the letters in the first place). Also send all paperwork to the offices of the PERS Coalition (AFSCME) and to its attorney, Greg Hartman (all addresses are easily obtained). If you want to start a lot of trouble, you might also send a copy to PERS Public Affairs Director, David Crosley, and consider sending your story to certain members of the media who might understand the significance of the problem (i.e. don't waste your time with the Oregonian).
This should not happen and you should be angry and mean if it does happen. Money has a nasty way of making us mean. When someone tries to take it away from you illegally, meanness usually has a way of turning ugly. PERS has run roughshod over us; turnabout is fair play.
Hope you're all enjoying the Christmas holidays. I had fun writing this using my laptop computer and my cellular modem. The house was pitch dark and there I was busily surfing the net, sending emails and carrying on like normal as 375,000 of us were without power for most of the night. I still have a hard time figuring out why so many people lose power, especially where I live, where there isn't an above ground power line for a radius of at least 5 miles. Oh well.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
"I would agree with the latest article summarizing the 2006 PERS By The Numbers. Steve Law has accurately and fairly portrayed the effects of numerous things that have transpired since 2003. In fairness, I would argue that the greatest impact on the PERS condition today has been the superheated stock market that reawakened in 2003 and has continued pretty much unabated since then. The PERS reforms have produced modest results and have resulted in numerous and very expensive and time-consuming litigation, much of which continues unresolved. I agree that PERS is in better health today, but I would for once like to see some coverage of the role that irresponsible public employers played in getting PERS into this mess in the first place. Fair reporting would acknowledge that the public employers badgering and hectoring of the previous PERS Board into granting creative accounting solutions so the employers' wouldn't be required to pay their true costs in a timely manner. Things like smoothing asset gains and losses, amortizing underpayments, and other more creative "solutions" to a non-problem actually accounted for at least 50% of the UAL as the legislature convened in 2003. The employers made the problem out to be one that essentially was the fault of the PERS Board, the Unions, and greedy Tier 1 PERS members, but conveniently ignored their own culpability in creating the crisis of that began in the early 1990's and peaked in 2000 - 2003. Given the same hindsight afforded to the employers by way of the retrospective review of a PERS Board decision to credit arguably excessive earnings in 1999 (earnings that were, by the way, presented to the Legislative e-Board and approved by same before decisions were announced), it could also be argued that the growth from 2003 - present wasn't unexpected and a set of reasonable and completely prospective changes could have been implemented without all the litigation that arose from the clumsy way everything turned out. If legislators and the employers and the governor had been willing to place some faith in market forces, ended the variable contributions, redid the variable match calculations, and enacted a ceiling and floor on Tier 1 regular account earnings at the "assumed rate", adopted the original actuarial equivalency proposal first introduced by the PERS Coalition in 2000 (segmented rates), introduced the new Tier 3, I'd hazard a guess that the system would be nearly as well off as it is now, without endless litigation that is costing the system and taxpayers a large sum of money. And without the rancor, bitterness, betrayal, and massive early retirements that are costing the public boatloads of extra money. Mechanisms were already in place for PERS to absorb the 1999 "overcredit" without reaching in to active members accounts, and retroactively altering certain retiree benefits *after* members had made their retirement decisions and without any option to change their decisions. PERS got a "do over" while retirees got the shaft.
The media continues to overplay the piece about a small number of retirees that ended up with more than their final average salary in retirement. We all acknowledge that it happened, but the actual number of people for which this effect is known is a small number out of the total number of retirees. Yes, it *is* true that about half of the people who worked more than 30 years retired with more than their final salaries. But what gets left out - until the most recent Steve Law piece - is that at the absolute peak, less than 1 in 7 retirees worked that long before retiring and so the percent of "overachievers" actually represents about 1 in 14 individuals. Yet, this one fact, above all facts, is the one that was deemed newsworthy and was used to justify "the sky is falling" media blitz.
The SJ can congratulate itself (and Steve Law) for finally getting the real facts out (a point that is completely alien to the Oregonian, by the way), but getting it right once is no reason to be smug. There are a bunch of us bloggers who write about PERS issues who are watching the media extremely closely and are using our pulpits to call out the media every time it misrepresents or selectively reports facts in a biased way. The Oregonian has been punished in two ways -- by a steep decline in circulation, partly caused by PERS members and retirees absolutely fed up with its anti-PERS, anti-public employee bias; and by refusing to patronize local businesses that advertise regularly in the Oregonian. There is no way one could argue that the Oregonian isn't hurting from this. The point here is that the same fate could befall the Statesman-Journal if we start to see a resumption of the biased muckraking we saw in the near past.
We don't ask for much. We want the truth to be told - the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are plenty of culprits in all this. We, as both public employees and now public retirees, are just tired of being made out to be the only cause of whatever problems resulted from legislative tampering, employer whining, and inept PERS administration. We worked hard and accepted the pension system we were offered, not the one we desired or the one we would necessarily have chosen if we were given a choice. We had no choice. We accepted the employers' representations that while they understood our salaries were low, the best they could do was to pick up our 6% contribution instead of giving us a pay raise. Deferred benefits sounded good to the employers and the legislature when they were reaping all the financial savings, but they became a disaster when the bill came due in the late 1990's. So, we want the correct villians singled out here. We didn't cause the problem; we had no choice in the system foist on us; we performed our work in good faith and accepted the retirement representations of PERS, the Legislature, and our employers. Why should WE be expected to be financially responsible for the mess left by others?
Instead of congratulating yourselves too much, why not call for an end to the litigation. Editorialize for the state and the employers to settle these current cases (Arken and Robinson) out of court and back off collection efforts from retirees. This would end the uncertainty for all parties and would let PERS (the system) move forward on more productive uses of their staff and their earnings. It can't be very cost-effective any more to be tying up expensive analysts time to continue to produce reports just for the purpose of litigation. These cases are doomed to drag on for several more years unless some settlement is reached. Call for a retiree-friendly end to the current litigation and we shall be in your debt and you will have performed a genuine public service. "